Tag Archives: Restaurant

Reflections – PEARL CASTLE – 6060 Minoru Blvd, Richmond, BC, Canada (604) 279-0177

28 Mar

Every now and then, I think we all just need to pause and stop thinking so much.  Just stop and enjoy the sights, the sounds, and the tastes.

Bright lights.  Chandeliers cling to the ceiling overhead.  Soft cushions.   Leather seats are there to catch you when you’re ready to fall.  Solid Spruce.  Wooden tables under our hands, carrying our utensils, our tools of our trade.  Time to dine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beef Brisket Hot Pot has an almost reassuring glow.  Drenched in a Tomato Stew and served with Rice and a bit of Sweet Hot Sauce to accent the slightly savoury and tender Beef, it’s the tasty trophy you get once you cross the finish line of a long work day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Hot Milk Tea with Tapioca Pearls has a distinctly friendly shimmer, especially when you’re tired.

Red Rose Oolong Tea scatters a warm and lustrous scent throughout the air.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Seafood Hot Pot decorated with slices of Pork is a prize to behold.  Swimming in the Broth is some measure of satisfaction when it’s cold, wet, and rainy outside, and you’re inside a cozy restaurant looking out

Deep Fried Calamari offers crunchy relief, with salty overtones to help sort your thoughts out.

Jell-O makes you grin like a little kid again when you slurp it in your mouth.

The company of friends lights up a cold and rainy night.

Pearl Castle 圓香茶坊 (Richmond Centre) on Urbanspoon

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NOOCH SNACK & CHILL – 6900 No 3 Road, Richmond, BC, Canada, (604) 284-5434

26 Mar

PRICE: $6-$12

Today I skipped lunch, which is something I absolutely hate doing.  Today I’m running from job to the next with almost no end in sight.  Fortunately I have a tiny 30-minute window which will allow me to eat.  Or so I thought.  Briskly walking through No.3 Road in Richmond, I make my way to Nooch Snack & Chill.  I’ve passed by it almost countless times on my bus trips to work, and I figure it’s high time I actually pay that place a visit.

While No.3 road sits as one of the most busy and prosperous areas in Downtown Richmond, the area in which Nooch is located is surprisingly dilapidated.  Ironic that such a neglected area stands right in front of City Hall.  Oh well.  Further musings on irony will saved for another time.  As I draw close to the entrance, I’m not really expecting a whole lot.  Maybe just a cheap sandwich joint staffed with illegal immigrants.

Opening the door, I am rather shocked to see the place so…well…CLEAN.  The walls are a sparkling white with red highlights to accent certain areas of the interior.  The building is spotless, the area sparse, but with pleasing artistic drawings, couches, tables and chairs sparingly placed rather tastefully.

“I used to have a classmate in high school that kept cheeseburgers in his pockets.  Seriously.  And this was before Napoleon Dynamite ever came out.”

A friendly smile emerges from the cash desk.  I’m hesitant.  I have no idea what kind of stuff this place serves, so the man behind the counter helpfully suggests the more popular dishes.  I choose one.

“Would you like that for here, or to go?”

“For here.”

A slight pause follows, followed by the explanation “Unfortunately we’re closing at 6:00 today, would you still like it for here?”

I glance at my watch.  It’s 5:45.

I sigh.  So much for enjoying a relaxing meal.  Ah well.  It’s either 15 minutes or nothing.  Sometimes you just gotta make do with what you have, and it’s either eat here real fast, or eat on the bus on the way home.

I do not like the idea of eating a meal on the bus.

I used to have a classmate in high school that kept cheeseburgers in his pockets.  Seriously.  And this was before Napoleon Dynamite ever came out.

I do not want to have that reputation with the people on the bus.

The decision is now obvious and easy.

“…I’ll just take it for here anyway…”  I wince a little as I say this.

I hate being that jerk customer that stays after-hours to bug service workers.  I work in a food court, and every time someone approaches me for coffee after the store has shut down, I feel like a little part of what makes me human dies inside.

Surprisingly enough, my host seems rather good-natured about it, offers me a seat, and gives the cook my order.  Ham and Swiss Cheese Panini.

As I do my usual rounds of picture taking, my host strikes up a little bit of small talk.  I try to explain to him that I’m really just a writer; I’m not trying to stake out the place.  Nothing to worry about here!

The food arrives pretty quickly.  I start ogling my plate.  Sourdough Panini Bread encases a layer of Ham and Melted Swiss Cheese.  Kettle-Boiled Potato Chips and Salad drenched in what appears to be a Balsamic Vinaigrette stand guard between the main course.  I dig in.

The bread is delightfully warm and crunchy; a welcome change from the gross soggy Oatmeal-like sludge that often passes for warm Panini Bread.  The Cheese is warm and thick, with a pleasantly mild tang.  The Ham…is I think Safeway Select.  Oh whatever, Ham is Ham.

The Salad’s Vinaigrette is light and easy.  The Vinegar is pleasant and offers a pleasant sour overtone, but overall is rather sweet.  The Vegetables offer a refreshing crunch. 

The Potato Chips are either Miss Vickie’s or Kettle Boiled Chips.  That’s fine, I like both brands.

I hastily down the meal as quickly as I can.  I’m the only one left in the restaurant at this point.  Ugh. I feel like that straggling, sickly Wildebeest (which always gets left behind in the group and dies) that you always see in those nature documentaries on Africa.  It’s 6:05.

Expecting to see a menacing frown on my host, I do my best to excuse myself.  He grins, seeming pretty chill about it, shakes my hand, gives me his name, and waves.

Well, Nooch Snack & Chill delivered on the chill part for sure. I guess even the sickly Wildebeest can have its place in the pack after all.

Nooch Snack & Chill on Urbanspoon

JAPADOG – Downtown 530 Robson St, Vancouver, BC, Canada (604) 569-1158

23 Mar

PRICE: $6-$13

The corner of Robson and Richards is bustling with life.  Vehicle and pedestrian traffic is continuous, and a steady stream of people wander through the sidewalks.  Me and my foodie companion are among those people.  Amidst the bustle of street vendors, schizophrenic people talking to themselves, and the yuppies, students, and hipsters, something stands out.  JAPADOG.  Having seen their carts scattered around Vancouver and Richmond, I was excited to finally visit their store.

“I do my best to act dignified despite having said ‘Love Meat Dog’ a few moments ago.”

Walking inside, it’s probably the fanciest hot-dog store you could probably ever ask for.  Mind you, it doesn’t have the interior of a five-star restaurant, but it’s far from the hole-in-the-wall that I was expecting.  A sizeable menu touting a variety of Japan-themed Hot Dogs gleams overhead the cash registers at the front of the store.  Hmm.  So much variety.  So much exotic flavours.  So little time.  My partner has made up his mind though.

“Okonomi Dog Please!  With Shaken Teriyaki Fries!”

The cashier repeats the order to the rest of the staff busy cooking at the back with an amicable and super authentic Japanese accent.  This place is the real deal.  I make up my mind and place my order.

“Love Meat Dog Please!”

I pause.  God that sounded awkward.  But it’s an item listed on the menu above.  I’m not making this up.  Seriously.   Hesitant and awkward from embarrassment, I continue my order.

“…Uh…with…Butter and Shoyu Shaken Fries!”

I do my best to act dignified despite having said ‘Love Meat Dog’ a few moments ago.

We take our numbers and try to find a table.  This task is harder than you could imagine; the place is literally almost filled to the brim with people.  It’s practically a struggle to breathe around here, let alone walk around.  After what feels like a soul-searching journey, we finally take a seat.

The awesome, super-authentic Japanese accent rings through the air.  Pick up time.

We grab our entrees and quickly begin to disembowel them at our table. These Hot Dogs are like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.  They’re exotic to the point of being gimmicky, but they still deliver amazingly when it comes to taste.

The Okonomi Dog Meat is made from Kurobata, which I gather is a sort of Japanese Specialty Pork. Tender, juicy, and quite savoury.  Bonito Flakes and Fried Cabbage line the sides of the Bun, and provide a fantastic but light crunch, and a subtle but very noticeable Oriental touch to the dish.

The Love Meat Dog (haha, still awkward to say) sports an Arabiki Pork Sausage covered in Cheese Sauce.  It’s kind of like a Japanese Pizza sitting on top of a Hot Dog.  A fine quality Hot Dog.  Savoury, cheesy, and soft, resting atop a slightly charred Bun, it’s filling and satisfying.

We depart amongst the sea of people.  I try and pull a Moses, by clasping my hands and striking the ground with my foot.  All that’s missing is my staff.  Nothing.

Whatever.  Push and shove works just as well.  Get those elbows out at face-level and keep walking.

We emerge from the sea of people, satisfied and full.  I open the door, smiling.  Haha, ‘Love Meat Dog’.  That phrase is still making me grin like an idiot.

Japadog on Urbanspoon

EITHER CUP – A Homage.

18 Mar

Because I’m writing this on St. Paddy’s Day, and I really don’t feel like dining out at some restaurant at the moment, I’m gonna present you guys with a blast from the past.  This is a homage to one of the greatest Cafes that I’d ever been to.  The quality consistent, the Latte artwork beautiful, and the service…well let’s just say the owner was working there literally 7 days a week to no end.  He looked so tired that I could pretty much feel the stench of death overcoming him, but man could he make a good Latte.  And considering how tired he was, he was pretty personable.  At least more than I ever would be at that point.

Sadly this wonderful place is now gone with the wind, (the owner probably sold it due to burn-out).  But let’s cherish the times now gone, and revel in the work of this forgotten, under-appreciated artist.

I remember this place vividly.  I stumbled upon it randomly when I was having a really crappy day, and I was just thinking to myself I’m gonna go into the first place I see and they BETTER be able to make me feel better somehow!!

I opened the door and let the soft lights hanging overhead engulf me in their white light.  Soft dark leather couches, dark chairs and tiled floor.  A beautiful, minimalistic and classy joint.  It’s the kind of place you’d share an intimate moment in.  I stepped up to the counter and ordered my drink.

“There were a lot of weird complications I was going through at that time, but coming there at the end of the day made things simple.”

Upon seeing a flower blossom in the paper cup that held my Latte, I smiled.  I mean like a genuine smile.  For the first time in like a month.  This place became my little refuge for the next 2-3 weeks that followed, and I revelled in sharing the company and occasionally shooting the shit with a service worker that was as burned out as I was at the time (I was pulling 7 day weeks for almost 2 months or so at that point).  There were a lot of weird complications I was going through at that time, but coming there at the end of the day made things simple.  I loved that they also kept a few chairs outside, and on the gorgeous sunny days of summer 2010, I would just chill and watch the people go by, in my own space immune to the constraints of stress and time.  The kind of feeling a real Café should give someone.

The man behind the Espresso machine really knew his stuff.  He was largely self-taught, and I really think he could’ve won competitions if he entered into them.  A Latte-making Van Gogh.

So here’s to a great artist, sadly under-appreciated, and under-rated.  Hope you’re spinning flowers, hearts, tidal waves, and cats in Latte cups elsewhere.

Either Cup Coffee & Tea on Urbanspoon

LA GRILL & BISTRO – 128 – 8100 No. 2 Road, Richmond, BC, Canada, (604) 277-8355

16 Mar

PRICE: $7-$15

“Are we there yet?”  This phrase has been repeated almost a dozen times now.  It is slowly driving me insane.  You’d think that walking to a parked car is really not a big deal, but for some I suppose it can be a trek to Mount Everest.  Being foodies is such hard work sometimes.  As we finally make our way to my car, we load up and make our way to LA Grill, a cozy, chilled out Steak-House minus the Steak-House prices.

Upon entering the joint, we’re guided pretty quickly to our seats.  Windows surround us, giving us a nice view of what remains one of the only sunny days we’ve had in the Greater Vancouver Area in aeons.  Yes, AEONS.  Sunlight creeps in and the reflections dance on our table.  Servers in cute black dresses come and ask us what drinks we need and hand us a menu.  I’m in the mood for something diabetic.

“Coke please!”

The Coke arrives.  My partners have ordered water.  How boring.  I secretly hope that it’s diabetic water.

We peruse the menu and are shocked.  Nothing here costs more than $15!  But, this is, in fact, a Steak House right?  This is simply too good to be true.  There must be a catch.  Well, guess I’ll find out soon enough now won’t I?

“My partners have ordered water.  How boring.  I secretly hope that it’s diabetic water.”

After our orders are placed, the food begins to arrive, starting with the appetizer.  Nachos with Salsa and Sour Cream.  I know it’s not very fancy, but hey, it gets the job done.  The Salsa Sauce is subtle and balanced in its flavour.  I think it’s home-made.  Win.  The Sour Cream is merely okay.  Passing grade.  The Nachos themselves are lightly salted and light.  I think they are Que Pasa Chips.  I like Que Pasa Chips.

The main courses begin to arrive.  The LA Burger lands by our cutlery.  Bacon, Melted Cheddar Cheese, and what appears to be Mushroom Cream Sauce adorn this Burger Patty.  Surrounded by Baked Potatoes and a Salad, this entrée provides a satisfying punch.  Nothing super creative, but it gets the job done in its own right.

The New York Steak arrives.  The portion of Steak is small, but it does taste pretty good.  Seared and served with a sweet & savoury Sauce, the chef has also done a pretty good job cooking it exactly the way we wanted it, which is obviously an extremely important part of the process.  Unfortunately it doesn’t happen as often as you’d think.  Especially for cheaper Steak joints.  Fortunately, this does not prove to be the case here.  While the portion of Steak is good, it is a little small.  However, they more than make up for that little fault by providing a massive amount of sides.  Pilau Rice, Caesar Salad and Garlic Bread do a great job of complementing the Steak, and filling us up.

The Peppercorn Steak arrives.  I eat happily for a few minutes.   Then I realize something.

“This is a New York Steak.”

I am initially angered.  How dare they serve me New York Steak when I ordered Peppercorn?!  Don’t they know who I am?!  A friggin’ FOODIE!!!

I take a few more bites and chew angrily.  Oh well.  It tastes pretty good.  Yeah, I guess I don’t mind.

All in all, aside from the mis-order, it was a good dining experience.  Not the greatest food, but definitely the best low-priced Steak-House I’ve been to in a long time.  Best bang for the buck.  ‘Nuff said.

LA Grill and Bistro on Urbanspoon

JANG MO JIB – 8320 Alexandra Road, Richmond, British Columbia, Canada (604) 233-0712

4 Mar

PRICE RANGE: $15-$30

The restaurant itself is something beautiful to behold.  Sporting a rustic Korean feel, it’s apparent that the restaurateurs take the ‘Korean’ in the Korean cuisine quite seriously.  White walls with dark wooden framing give this place an authentic feel, and the dining area feels like a terrace without actually being one.

The lighting is beautiful in this area, providing a relaxing, laid back atmosphere that suits friendly gatherings or dates.

I’m actually a little late to this gathering.  Having come from a long day at work I’m pretty much sprinting into the dining area to find my friends bored and waiting for me.  A pretty common occurrence.  You’ll learn that about me.

Delicate smells waft in the air.  Kimchee, spices, and herbal aromas greet our noses and a server comes to visit our table.

You know what I need?  A beer.

A popular Korean beer, CASS, is suggested to me.  Sounds vaguely familiar.  Sure, I’ll take it.  It’s poured into a little glass, and I take a gulp.  Smooth.  Kinda like a Corona…but from the Orient.  Intriguing.

The people I’m with order a Coke and water.  Lame.

“Delicate smells waft in the air.  Kimchee, spices, and herbal aromas greet our noses and a server comes to visit our table.”

My eyes scroll through the menu and pick out something interesting… I can’t pronounce it, but I’m told by a friend, a pseudo-regular, that it’s really good.  I can’t pronounce it for the life of me.  Our server rolls his eyes as I try to speak fake Korean, struggling to pronounce the dish’s name.  I get it, server, you have listen to this dozens of times a day.

First the side dishes arrive.  Korean sweet potato (the yellow stuff), Kimchee, Tofu, and legumes.  Well executed, none of them proving to be overpowering, and staying true to the way they are meant taste.  My spider-sense detects little or no MSG; I don’t feel the crippling thirst that monosodium glutamate (read: a tool for the weak) leaves behind.

The sweet potato has a fine texture, firm, yet melt in-your-mouth, the kimchee sports the regular spicy zing with a slightly salty after-taste; invigorating.  Tofu, is well, tofu.  I’m not a tofu connoisseur.  It tasted okay to me.  Legumes added a fresh finish to the side dishes.

Finally the main dish arrives, which can be described primarily as a variety bowl of awesome.  The ingredients are separated and are as follows: rice noodles, sea weed, fried beef, bean sprouts, an egg, and miscellaneous veggies.  You can either mix them all together and create a gorgeous stew, or you can eat each ingredient separately; I tried both and it tastes great either way!

The enjoyment on my face was apparent.  As our server stopped by to ask how our meals were, I, for a brief moment, think he forgave and forgot the awful Korean that came out of my mouth as I tried to order the dishes.

Jang Mo Jib (Alexandra Rd) on Urbanspoon